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The exposure grade describes the potential consequences of falling or slipping off the path.
Low Exposure: The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.
Medium Exposure: The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.
High Exposure: Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.
Extreme Exposure: Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.
Parking for the Turquoise Lake Loop ride is by the dam on CR9.
This area is used by snowmobilers, ice fishers, skiers, snowshoers, and fat bikers, so it may be very busy on a beautiful weekend day.
This route can be ridden in either direction, but for a more gradual climb at the start and an awesomely-long, swooping descent for the second half, counter-clockwise is the way to go.
That direction of travel generally provides fantastic, solid conditions for the first third to half of the 15-mile loop, since it gets a decent amount of sun.
That makes for generally solid climbing conditions. The next half to two-thirds of the loop does not get much sun, so the snow can be fairly unconsolidated.
Your tire pressure will make or break your ride in that kind of snow, so bring a gauge and a pump! It is always quite obvious when preceding riders didn't get the pressure right and struggle mightily; their tracks are quite erratic! When the stars align just right, the entire loop can be crisp and firm. As with any mountain ride, be sure to carry plenty of layers in your pack.
If it is sunny, with Colorado bluebird skies, the climb will be warm enough for short sleeves...
but the descent will require layering up.
Also, pack a nice lunch, or plenty of yummy snacks; this ride is worth lingering over. The views along the way vary between big pine trees lining the road, to huge distant mountains, to the beautiful Turquoise Lake down below, to dramatic rock outcroppings. The loop is an unplowed road that circumnavigates Turquoise Lake.
It is groomed by the local snowmobile club and is a popular destination for snowmobilers.
One segment of it is also used by a local sled-dog tour company, so you may just see a few sleds pulled by eager sled dogs! Cross country skiers love the route when it is freshly groomed, and backcountry skiers use the route to access a hut.
Due to the popularity of the loop, it is best to fat bike it on a weekday.
Grooming is done every Monday and Friday, so plan accordingly.